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Publications of Eduardo D. Sontag jointly with M. Chaves
Articles in journal or book chapters
  1. M. Chaves, A. M. Sengupta, and E.D. Sontag. Geometry and topology of parameter space: investigating measures of robustness in regulatory networks. J. of Mathematical Biology, 59:315-358, 2009. [PDF]
    Abstract:
    The concept of robustness of regulatory networks has been closely related to the nature of the interactions among genes, and the capability of pattern maintenance or reproducibility. Defining this robustness property is a challenging task, but mathematical models have often associated it to the volume of the space of admissible parameters. Not only the volume of the space but also its topology and geometry contain information on essential aspects of the network, including feasible pathways, switching between two parallel pathways or distinct/disconnected active regions of parameters. A method is presented here to characterize the space of admissible parameters, by writing it as a semi-algebraic set, and then theoretically analyzing its topology and geometry, as well as volume. This method provides a more objective and complete measure of the robustness of a developmental module. As a detailed case study, the segment polarity gene network is analyzed.


  2. A. Dayarian, M. Chaves, E.D. Sontag, and A. M. Sengupta. Shape, Size and Robustness: Feasible Regions in the Parameter Space of Biochemical Networks. PLoS Computational Biology, 5:e10000256, 2009. [PDF]
    Abstract:
    The concept of robustness of regulatory networks has received much attention in the last decade. One measure of robustness has been associated with the volume of the feasible region, namely, the region in the parameter space in which the system is functional. In recent work, we emphasized that topology and geometry matter, as well as volume. In this paper, and using the segment polarity gene network to illustrate our approach, we show that random walks in parameter space and how they exit the feasible region provide a rich perspective on the different modes of failure of a model. In particular, for the segment polarity network, we found that, between two alternative ways of activating Wingless, one is more robust. Our method provides a more complete measure of robustness to parameter variation. As a general modeling strategy, our approach is an interesting alternative to Boolean representation of biochemical networks.


  3. M. Chaves and E.D. Sontag. Exact computation of amplification for a class of nonlinear systems arising from cellular signaling pathways. Automatica, 42:1987-1992, 2006. [PDF] Keyword(s): systems biology, biochemical networks, nonlinear stability, dynamical systems.
    Abstract:
    A commonly employed measure of the signal amplification properties of an input/output system is its induced L2 norm, sometimes also known as H-infinity gain. In general, however, it is extremely difficult to compute the numerical value for this norm, or even to check that it is finite, unless the system being studied is linear. This paper describes a class of systems for which it is possible to reduce this computation to that of finding the norm of an associated linear system. In contrast to linearization approaches, a precise value, not an estimate, is obtained for the full nonlinear model. The class of systems that we study arose from the modeling of certain biological intracellular signaling cascades, but the results should be of wider applicability.


  4. M. Chaves, E.D. Sontag, and R. Albert. Methods of robustness analysis for Boolean models of gene control networks. IET Systems Biology, 153:154-167, 2006. [PDF] Keyword(s): systems biology, biochemical networks, boolean systems, gene and protein networks, hybrid systems.
    Abstract:
    As a discrete approach to genetic regulatory networks, Boolean models provide an essential qualitative description of the structure of interactions among genes and proteins. Boolean models generally assume only two possible states (expressed or not expressed) for each gene or protein in the network as well as a high level of synchronization among the various regulatory processes. In this paper, we discuss and compare two possible methods of adapting qualitative models to incorporate the continuous-time character of regulatory networks. The first method consists of introducing asynchronous updates in the Boolean model. In the second method, we adopt the approach introduced by L. Glass to obtain a set of piecewise linear differential equations which continuously describe the states of each gene or protein in the network. We apply both methods to a particular example: a Boolean model of the segment polarity gene network of Drosophila melanogaster. We analyze the dynamics of the model, and provide a theoretical characterization of the model's gene pattern prediction as a function of the timescales of the various processes.


  5. M. Chaves, R. Albert, and E.D. Sontag. Robustness and fragility of Boolean models for genetic regulatory networks. J. Theoret. Biol., 235(3):431-449, 2005. [PDF] Keyword(s): systems biology, biochemical networks, boolean systems, gene and protein networks.
    Abstract:
    Interactions between genes and gene products give rise to complex circuits that enable cells to process information and respond to external signals. Theoretical studies often describe these interactions using continuous, stochastic, or logical approaches. Here we propose a framework for gene regulatory networks that combines the intuitive appeal of a qualitative description of gene states with a high flexibility in incorporating stochasticity in the duration of cellular processes. We apply our methods to the regulatory network of the segment polarity genes, thus gaining novel insights into the development of gene expression patterns. For example, we show that very short synthesis and decay times can perturb the wild type pattern. On the other hand, separation of timescales between pre- and post-translational processes and a minimal prepattern ensure convergence to the wild type expression pattern regardless of fluctuations.


  6. M. Chaves, R.J. Dinerstein, and E.D. Sontag. Optimal length and signal amplification in weakly activated signal transduction cascades. J. Physical Chemistry, 108:15311-15320, 2004. [PDF] Keyword(s): systems biology, biochemical networks, dynamical systems.
    Abstract:
    Weakly activated signaling cascades can be modeled as linear systems. The input-to-output transfer function and the internal gain of a linear system, provide natural measures for the propagation of the input signal down the cascade and for the characterization of the final outcome. The most efficient design of a cascade for generating sharp signals, is obtained by choosing all the off rates equal, and a "universal" finite optimal length.


  7. M. Chaves, E.D. Sontag, and R. J. Dinerstein. Steady-states of receptor-ligand dynamics: A theoretical framework. J. Theoret. Biol., 227(3):413-428, 2004. [PDF] Keyword(s): zero-deficiency networks, systems biology, biochemical networks, receptor-ligand models, dynamical systems.
    Abstract:
    This paper studies aspects of the dynamics of a conventional mechanism of ligand-receptor interactions, with a focus on the stability and location of steady-states. A theoretical framework is developed, and, as an application, a minimal parametrization is provided for models for two- or multi-state receptor interaction with ligand. In addition, an "affinity quotient" is introduced, which allows an elegant classification of ligands into agonists, neutral agonists, and inverse agonists.


  8. M. Chaves and E.D. Sontag. State-Estimators for chemical reaction networks of Feinberg-Horn-Jackson zero deficiency type. European J. Control, 8:343-359, 2002. [PDF] Keyword(s): observability, zero-deficiency networks, systems biology, biochemical networks, observers, nonlinear stability, dynamical systems.
    Abstract:
    This paper provides a necessary and sufficient condition for detectability, and an explicit construction of observers when this condition is satisfied, for chemical reaction networks of the Feinberg-Horn-Jackson zero deficiency type.


Conference articles
  1. M. Chaves, E.D. Sontag, and R. Albert. Structure and timescale analysis in genetic regulatory networks. In Proc. IEEE Conf. Decision and Control, San Diego, Dec. 2006, pages 2358-2363, 2006. IEEE. [PDF] Keyword(s): genetic regulatory networks, Boolean systems, hybrid systems.
    Abstract:
    This work is concerned with the study of the robustness and fragility of gene regulation networks to variability in the timescales of the distinct biological processes involved. It explores and compares two methods: introducing asynchronous updates in a Boolean model, or integrating the Boolean rules in a continuous, piecewise linear model. As an example, the segment polarity network of the fruit fly is analyzed. A theoretical characterization is given of the model's ability to predict the correct development of the segmented embryo, in terms of the specific timescales of the various regulation interactions.


  2. E.D. Sontag and M. Chaves. Computation of amplification for systems arising from cellular signaling pathways. In Proc. 16th IFAC World Congress, Prague, July 2005, 2005. Keyword(s): systems biology, biochemical networks, dynamical systems.


  3. M. Chaves, E.D. Sontag, and R.J. Dinerstein. Gains and optimal design in signaling pathways. In Proc. IEEE Conf. Decision and Control, Paradise Island, Bahamas, Dec. 2004, IEEE Publications, pages 596-601, 2004. Keyword(s): systems biology, biochemical networks, dynamical systems.


  4. M. Chaves and E.D. Sontag. An alternative observer for zero deficiency chemical networks. In Proc. Nonlinear Control System Design Symposium, St. Petersburg, July 2001, pages 575-578, 2001. Keyword(s): observability, observers, zero-deficiency networks, systems biology, biochemical networks, nonlinear stability, dynamical systems.


  5. M. Chaves and E.D. Sontag. Observers for certain chemical reaction networks. In Proc. 2001 European Control Conf., Sep. 2001, pages 3715-3720, 2001. Keyword(s): zero-deficiency networks, systems biology, biochemical networks, nonlinear stability, dynamical systems, observability, observers.



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